A month or so ago I reviewed Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, a book that grabbed me from the first page. Even though I am not typically much of a mystery/thriller reader I really liked Ms. Flynn's writing style. In fact, I liked it enough to go back and see what else she had written. The blurb for Dark Places was intriguing enough for me to hit the Buy Now button on my iPad and I'm very glad that I did.
Dark Places is a story that vacillates between current day and January 2, 1985, the night of the gruesome murders of Libby Day's mother and two sisters. Libby, who was only seven years old at the time of the murders was also in the farmhouse that night but was able to escape and hide out in the snow covered fields beyond the farm house. Being so young, she was very malleable and was easily convinced to testify that her fifteen year old brother was the person that committed this horrendous crime.
Now, years later and living off the meager remains of a trust fund that was created for her by sympathetic well wishers shortly after the murders, Libby crosses paths with a member of a Kill Club. Kill Club is a surreptitious group that follows sensational crimes and now the members of this group have come together in their belief that Libby's brother has been wrongly accused and convicted. Ultimately this group has now deemed it their cause to prove the innocence of Libby's brother, Ben Day. Libby, who is in need of money, reluctantly agrees to the Kill Club's terms that they will pay her in return for her talking to and gaining information from a line up of people connected to that dark night in 1985.
Through Libby's current day encounters with these people from her past and the author's technique of telling a tale via the various view points of a number of characters that were involved in the shocking events of that cold January night so long ago, the reader is slowly given more and more of the details of what happened in that doomed farm house. As the story slowly unfolds I found myself going back and forth on who I thought might have actually committed this evil act. The book is a haunting psychological study of parenting, financial hardship,teenage angst, bullying, and moral integrity.
I finished the book almost two weeks ago and it still drifts into my thoughts from time to time. I always think that is the mark of a better book.
Be forewarned that there is an element of devil worship in the book. That is something that I found disturbing and there is also a chapter on animal mutilation that I feel the story could have done without. If you choose to read the book, I would say feel free to gloss over that chapter if you find it as repulsive as I do. You really won't miss anything crucial to the story.
All in all, I would give this book three and a half out of five palates.
I'm a tough grader.